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European Parliament reaches ‘provisional’ political agreement on air quality law

The European Parliament reached on Wednesday (24 April) a provisional political agreement with EU countries on new measures to improve air quality, with 381 votes in favour, 225 against and 17 abstentions.

The new rules would set stricter 2030 limits and target values for pollutants with a severe impact on human health, including particulate matter (PM2.5, PM10), NO2 (nitrogen dioxide) and SO2 (sulphur dioxide). EU Member States may request that the 2030 deadline be postponed by up to ten years, if specific conditions are met, according to the proposed legislation.

“By updating air quality standards, some of which were established nearly two decades ago, pollution will be halved across the EU, paving the way for a healthier, more sustainable future. Thanks to Parliament, the updated rules improve air quality monitoring and protect vulnerable groups more effectively. Today is a significant victory in our continuous commitment to secure a safer, cleaner environment for all Europeans,” said rapporteur Javi López (S&D, ES).

Under the proposed measures, if the new national rules are violated, those affected by air pollution will be able to take legal action, and citizens may receive compensation if their health has been damaged.

More air quality sampling points will also be set up in cities and currently-fragmented air quality indices across the EU will become comparable, clear and publicly available.

The law now also has to be adopted by the Council of the EU, before being published in the EU Official Journal and entering into force 20 days later. If adopted, EU countries will then have two years to apply the new rules.

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